Capabilities' substitutability and the “S” curve of export diversity
School of Systems Science, Beijing Normal University - Beijing 100875, China
Received: 19 April 2013
Accepted: 10 March 2014
Product diversity, which is highly important in economic systems, has been highlighted by recent studies on international trade. We found an empirical pattern, designated as “S-shaped curve”, that models the relationship between economic size (logarithmic GDP) and export diversity (the number of varieties of export products) on the detailed international trade data. As the economic size of a country begins to increase, its export diversity initially increases in an exponential manner, but overtime, this diversity growth slows and eventually reaches an upper limit. The interdependence between size and diversity takes the shape of an S-shaped curve that can be fitted by a logistic equation. To explain this phenomenon, we introduce a parameter called “substitutability” into the list of capabilities or factors of products in the tri-partite network model (i.e., the country-capability-product model) of Hidalgo et al. As we observe, when the substitutability is zero, the model returns to Hidalgo's original model but failed to reproduce the S-shaped curve. However, in a plot of data, the data increasingly resembles an S-shaped curve as the substitutability expands. Therefore, the diversity ceiling effect can be explained by the substitutability of different capabilities.
PACS: 89.65.Gh – Economics; econophysics, financial markets, business and management / 89.75.-k – Complex systems
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